Despite 40 Obamacare repeal votes, Republicans have yet to offer an alternative to one of the most popular aspects of Obamacare: banning health insurance companies from denying coverage for people with preexisting conditions.
On CNN’s State of the Union this Sunday, Candy Crowley pressed Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) to answer what would happen to those people with conditions like heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and cancer if Obamacare weren’t law. Amash suggested that insurance plans already had an answer to preexisting conditions, ignoring the fact that a vast number could not gain coverage simply because they had been sick:
CROWLEY: What’s the alternative to those who now find that their preexisting conditions don’t matter, they can still get insurance? What do you say to the 25-year-old that still needs to stay on his parents? What happens to them if Obamacare goes away?
AMASH: Preexisting conditions can be covered. In fact they are covered by some insurance policies.
CROWLEY: Some. AMASH: But you have to have a competitive — you have to have a competitive marketplace that allows those products to be offered. The way we have insurance now, you’re required to provide a particular insurance product. It creates a monopoly in the system and prices go up. If you want to increase access to health care, you have to have competition.
Without any regulation, health insurance companies have consistently denied coverage for people just because they were sick. That led to millions of Americans without health insurance, with up to 50 percent of Americans, or 129 million, having what qualifies as a preexisting condition. Nearly one in five of those Americans are uninsured. A Kaiser June 2013 survey found that among adults under age 65, a quarter said they or a family member had been denied health insurance or charged a higher premium for having been sick.
Already, health care reform has stopped discrimination against children with preexisting conditions, and by 2014, the law will apply to all adults, ensuring that everyone with existing medical issues can gain insurance.
Amash, along with other Republicans, have threatened to defund Obamacare by forcing a government shutdown unless Obamacare is defunded. In Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s own words, GOP should abandon the effort because “shutting down the government will not stop Obamacare.” In fact, throughout congressional recess, Republicans have faced anger from constituents who want to know what will happen to them if Obamacare is repealed.